Yes, folks, today I`ll talk about Freelancer.Com. For those of you that don’t know what Freelancer.com is, it’s a marketplace where you can employ people to outsource all kinds of tech projects to. You can get people to work on all kinds of projects, from marketing to SEO, from web design to video and phone app creation. You can hire people by hour or for an entire project. You’ll spend more than on Fiverr.com, but you’ll employ some of the most professional people online, because most experts won’t use their skills for a $4 project. Freelancer is one of the first online markets where you could employ professionals for your projects.
Freelancer is somewhat free to use, meaning that you ca sign up and list a project for free, without having to spend anything. If you want to promote your listing, that’s when you’ll have to spend, and the commissions aren’t scary either. You then have to pay a small fee when you employ someone for a project you have posted. If you pay him for a project, you’ll be charged when you first employ him. If you hire him by hour, you’ll have to pay him all the way until you stop working with him.
Freelancer is a big marketplace with a lot of people that know what they`re doing. And if you thought that there were no other good news, around one year ago Freelancer.com bough the best internet marketing forum, WarriorForum. That’s when a lot of the great marketers from WF landed on Freelancer.com, raising the numbers of both employers and employees of professional services. The bad part of the big buy is that along with the big number of professionals that registered of Freelancer, some scammers also ended up on the website.
Freelancer.com is usually pretty safe to use, seeing that you have a review system and a lot of checks and tests that sellers need to pass before getting paid. But scammers always seem to find a way, don’t they ?
So it all started when I needed a professional plugin for one of my wordpress websites. I listed my project for free and waited for the buyers. I instantly got around 6 messages and 12 more within the next day. Most of them looked professional, with great reviews and great descriptions of what they can offer me. I picked 3 of them and started negociating the deal. One of them stood out, asking for a small price for a full service, with everything from design to user testing. The difference in price was considerable, that’s why I chose to get more details from him.
He asked me to talk on skype, becasue it was easier for him. That`s the first mistake I think I made. Why would I move away from the safeness of the marketplace chat to a different chat system? Even so, the guy inspired professionalism, so I gave in. We talked about everything he should do for the money, different steps of payment, features I needed, and he seemed to have a professional answer to everything.
I know a little coding so I knew exactly what to ask him and what answers to expect, but he went over my expectations with his answers. That’s why he didn’t trigger any red flags at that time. We figured out everything that should be done so obviously we started to talk about the payment. He wanted an initial payment before he started to work. I understand why someone would want money before starting to work, because, as on most online marketplaces, there are scammers on the seller side, and on the buyer side also. I agreed to pay him just under $300 to get him started on the project.
When I said I`ll use Freelancer to pay, something weird happened: He found all these reasons why using Freelancer to pay wasn`t a good idea. He first told me that the fees were high. When I told him that I don`t really care about the fees, he started giving me many other reasons, like cashing out Freelancer money would take too much, how he needs the money now, how using just paypal would be no problem because “I could always dispute the transaction” if he tried to scam me.
I was weird for me, but somehow I believed him. I work in marketing for many years and in my starting time, when making $10 was still hard, I have come across a lot of scammers. Nowadays, seeing that I work especially with professionals, I reached a point where I trust most of the people I work with to the point where I pay some of my workers the full price of the project even before they start working. I think that the first reason why I gave in to his request was that the sum he asked for wasn`t one to scare me.
I paid, he asked for a week to get the first step of the project finished, I agreed. Everything was going smoothly. I week in and I had no answer from the guy. “No problem”, I said.. there are a lot of coders that forget about deadlines, get cought in other projects or simply don’t get to finish your project because they get stuck somewhere. So naturally I reached out to him with a diplomat message.
Nothing more than “Hey there, friend, one week has passed and I`m really curious as to where are we standing with the wordpress plugin project”. Two days later I still had no answer from the guy. I messaged him a few times again in the next few days before he logged out of Skype and never came back. I slowly understood that I was the victim of a scam. I had the dispute possibility, the guy was nice enough to tell me that so I thought I was safe. I immediatelly logged into Paypal and disputed the transaction. I spent a lot of time explaining in messages what has happened and I was sure I`d get the money back. It turns out Paypal doesn`t protect payments for online digital goods or services. Great ! It was just what I wanted to hear!
That`s when I realized I had nothing else to do. In the end, the almost $300 I was scammed of weren’t even my problem. The fact that I lost almost two weeks and was still very far away from getting my plugin was the real problem. And time is something I could never get back. From Paypal or anyone else.
Maybe you’re thinking: Why didn`t you contact Freelancer?
That`s a great question. I had a short thought about reaching out to Freelancer, but what could they do? The guy was smart enough to get the discussion away from Freelance.com’s eyes, the transaction wasn`t made with their help, all I had was the initial talk I had with him and the other buyers.
So all I did was to send them a message explaining everything that has happened without even thinking about getting my money back. Just as a general information that could stop the guy from doing this to someone else. But he isn`t the only one out there so be sure not to get scammed like I did.
After sending Freelancer a message I have stopped trying to get my money back. It was clear I was a scam victim and losing any more time would simply increase the damage I suffered.
To stay safe from scammers be sure to follow a few simple tips:
- Never deal outside the marketplace
- Keep the entire discussion on the marketplace
- Always pay through the marketplace even if the fees seem high. You pay for your protection
- If you don`t know the person you`re working with, don`t pay for the full project at start
- If something seems weird, don’t ignore it
I still like and use Freelancer.com but now I`m always careful about who I`m working with and how the project goes from start to finish.